Argh! That’s pretty much how I feel about finding the best jeans for me. What about you? It’s hard! But I promise you, it is doable. Not only will I help you determine the best jeans for your body shape and height, but I’ll help you shop for them, too. I’ve got lots of tips to help you find the right jeans and there’s even a subscriber freebie in the Printable Library for my daily or weekly email subscribers.
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My Fit Information for Perspective
Just because you will be seeing photos of me in some of my favorite jeans throughout this post, let’s get my fit information out of the way. You’ll want to keep this in mind as you look at how these jeans fit. I’m 5’8″ and weigh about 158. I generally wear a size 8 or 29 or 30 in jeans and pants. I have an hourglass shape and even proportions.
First, Get Your Head on Straight
First, let’s dispel a common myth. It’s just not true that other women find jeans easily. No one can wear every pair of denim out there. The truth is denim producers create jeans to fit all different body shapes and proportions. They actually know we are all different, so the best brands offer jeans that will a fit a variety of body shapes and sizes. That’s why I can wear some of the jeans by my favorite brands, such as Madewell, Mother, Fidelity Denim, Frame and even Talbots, but not all of them.
So do not get discouraged when you try on jeans and they don’t fit right. And do not give up trying. All women have to try on a lot of jeans to find the right ones. When you try on a pair that doesn’t work for you it doesn’t mean there is something wrong with the jeans and it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. It simply means those particular jeans were not made for you…but others were!
Having a positive attitude is really important when shopping for jeans. It puts you back in the driver’s seat and helps you navigate the process with more grace and decisiveness. Now, let’s check out the process!
Style Tips by Body Shape and Height
Before you start trying on jeans, however, it’s smart to do a little homework. First let’s consider these tips for selecting jeans that will fit and flatter your shape and height. I have no real experience shopping for a petite frame, but I do have some researched tips for you if you are petite.
Denim Fit Tips for Petites
If you are petite, you might want to shop jeans listed as ankle length or cropped for a full size fit. That’s a smart shopping hack some of the petite influencers I know use. But beware of actually wearing your jeans cropped, as that can make your legs look even shorter. You can wear ankle length jeans, but you’ll want to maintain good proportions by wearing a cropped length top or tucking your top in, even if just gently. Your goal is to elongate your legs visually.
In the graphic above I shared other tips for shopping for and styling jeans if you have a petite frame. All of these graphics are downloadable in a PDF (if you are an email subscriber) through the Printable Library. Remember, the current code is always listed at the bottom of your daily and weekly emails.
A slimmer, straighter jean silhouette will elongate the legs nicely. A higher waistline will also help visually lengthen the legs. And of course if you can wear a heel with your jeans that will help even more. Otherwise, look for jeans that don’t have any decoration, interruptions or lines on them that would cut the leg short. For instance, I’d definitely stay away from these dip dye ankle jeans from Chico’s. In fact, I’m not really sure anyone should wear these. Hmm.
Denim Fit Tips for an Oval Shape
If you have an oval shape you want to avoid jeans that add detail right at the tummy or waist band. You can minimize your tummy with jeans that have a straight leg. And you can distract from your tummy area by looking for jeans with embroidery or detailing further down the leg.
A high waist jean may be a good idea because the front panel will hold your tummy in a bit. And an elasticized waist band or other jean with a flat front can help prevent adding extra bulk in this area. If you don’t feel comfortable tucking your top in to help with proportions, consider wearing a flowy, loose-fitting top over skinny or slim fitting straight jeans.
Denim Fit Tips for an Inverted Triangle
If your body is more narrow at the hips and wider at the shoulders, you have an inverted triangle shape. For more information about discerning your body shape, check out this post. But if you know you are an inverted triangle, you’ll want to avoid skinny and slim-fitting jeans because they will just make you look even more top heavy. Instead, choose jeans with a wider leg and more bulk at the hips. For instance, patch pockets may be your friend.
Lighter wash jeans will also help balance out the proportions between your broader shoulders and more narrow hips. And you can really rock white or ecru jeans. And the balloon shaped jeans like these will look great on you, giving you more of an hourglass shape.
Denim Tips for the Rectangle Shape
A rectangle shape is characterized by similar width in the shoulders, midsection and hips and or thighs. Whether you are a fuller sized H or a more narrow I shaped rectangle, you’ll want to try to create a little definition with your jeans, so look for denim that has some shape to it.
A high waisted jean with your top tucked and a belt added could be a good look for you. You also might try jeans with a wide leg or bootcut, as these will add shape, too. Of course you’ll need to work your magic with the right top and accessories, too. To learn more about how to dress your shape – whatever it is – check out this blog post.
For you it’s not so much about the shape of the jeans as the proportions. Depending on your proportions, you’ll want to create the appearance of a waistline with the best rise for you. That’s the distance from the crotch to the waistband. More on that in a bit!
Denim Fit tips for Triangles
If your hips or thighs are significantly wider than both your shoulders and your waist, you likely have a triangle shape. That means you do need to be especially careful selecting your jeans. You want to steer clear of ornamentation or pockets at the hips and thighs. And you’re wise to stay away from wide or full leg jeans, which will only emphasize your triangle shape. You probably should also stay away from skinny jeans. I know a lot of women love their skinnies, but they only emphasize your hips and thighs rather than slimming them.
Instead, look for dark wash jeans in straight or trouser silhouettes. Those will probably be the best jeans for your frame most of the time. However, you could also shop the demi boot or barely bootcut jeans, too. But the straight and trouser jeans will definitely help minimize your hips. And, while you can wear light wash and white jeans (especially in a column with a lighter colored top), you’ll look your best in darker wash denim. You’re also a good candidate for curvy fits, which many denim brands carry, such as Talbots and Madewell.
Denim Fit Tips for Hourglass
Generally an hourglass shape can wear most any silhouette of jeans. However, you’ll want to consider the areas where you want to draw focus and where you’d prefer to minimize. Focus on the ideal rise that allows you to tuck your top and emphasize that waistline, for instance. Generally you’ll probably want to stay away from low rise jeans unless you don’t mind emphasizing your hips.
Also pay attention to the inseam, choosing jeans that are the most flattering length for your frame. Consider your proportions and purchase accordingly. If you have even proportions or a high waist, you’ll want to choose high waisted jeans. Otherwise, a mid rise will generally work best for you.
Of course you can wear basic straight or slim fit jeans in most lengths (depending on your proportions and height), but you can also enjoy the tapered leg, the demi boot and boyfriend silhouettes.
How to Shop for Jeans
Now that we have some tips based on our body shape and height so we can find the best jeans for our frame, let’s talk about how to go about shopping for jeans. Yes, there is a strategy…and it really works. If you are a subscriber, I have a handy chart for you to fill out in the printable library. Otherwise, you can always just jot down the information in the Notes section on your phone or in a pocket calendar.
- Find your favorite jeans in your closet right now. These are the jeans that feel and fit great and look good on you. Take a photo of you wear these jeans and keep it on your phone.
- Measure the rise: the distance in inches from the crotch to the waistband. Write that measurement down as your preferred rise if you like where those jeans hit you and how they feel.
- Measure the inseam: the distance in inches from the hemline to the crotch. Write that measurement down and note if it is full length, ankle or crop. You’ll want to calculate the best inseam for you for a full length jean, ankle and crop (if desired) and for various heel heights you may wear with your jeans.
- Consider your body shape and proportions and the guidelines given for those. You can find more information about dressing your unique proportions in this blog post. Don’t know your proportions? Watch this video. Write those notes down.
- With that information, determine the best rise for you. Should you look for high rise, mid rise or low rise? But also specifically what number or number range are you looking for?
- Measure your waist at the place where you want the waistband of your jeans to sit. Write that circumference down.
- Determine the wash that will work best for your body and for your lifestyle. It’s smart to have a pair of dark wash jeans because they look dressier and can elevate a look. But lighter washes are trending and have their place, too. They look casual and chic. Choose what you like and what resonates with you, not what any fashion police in your life may tell you. Jeans should be fun! Yes, consider the tips above for the most flattering look, but you can always do other things to balance a less than optimal jean wash (think adding a third piece or wearing a tonal look).
- Note the places on the jeans where you don’t want to draw attention. These are places where you do not want fading, distressing, patches or other ornamentation.
- Make a Personalized Denim Shopping Guide with your waist measurement, preferred rise, preferred inseams, preferred washes and preferred silhouettes.
- Order jeans with those specifications. You may not find the “perfect jeans” to order, but do your best to order according to the specifications on your Personalized Denim Shopping Guide. I say “order” because it’s actually easier to get this information online than it is in the store. So as long as you order from places with a good return policy, you may do better to do your denim shopping online. That’s my personal preference, and I have additional reasons below. I generally order in multiple sizes until I learn a brand. And I always check the customer reviews and the product guide for additional information such as fabric content, stretchiness, fit and sizing helps.
- Try on LOTS of jeans. Take mirror selfies with the jeans styled the way you envision wearing them (with shoes and the right tops). Note fit details. Wear any contenders for an hour or so to determine wearability. Be sure to check out the rearview. If you’re ample or wide in the rear, pockets should not be too wide or too low. Ideally, back pockets should create a visual “lift.”
- Note the brands that seem to work best for you. Add those to your Personalized Denim Shopping Guide.
Obviously this post could go on and on if I addressed every nuance of finding the right jeans for you. But with this information in your pocket – and truly, you need to keep it handy – I think you’ll find that shopping for the best jeans for you is a little easier. Yes, you’ll still have to try on lots of jeans. And yes, you’ll even try on jeans that meet all your specifications on paper and still don’t work on your body. That is frustrating, but it happens to all of us.
In the end, even if you’re a real jeans gal like I am, you probably could easily get buy with just a few pair that you absolutely love. Most manufacturers recommend washing your jeans as rarely as possible in cold water, turned inside out, and then laying them flat on a rack to dry. I’ve found if I follow those steps to take care of my denim – and I do – then my jeans can serve me well for several years.
Right now, straight leg jeans, which are the most universally flattering silhouette, are very on trend. So if you only have one pair, that’s the silhouette I’d choose, probably in a mid to dark wash. But it’s also a good time to add boot cut, wide leg, trouser, relaxed fit or boyfriend jeans to your collection, too. I don’t think any of these will go out of style any time soon.
Current trends that will have less staying power include distressing, patches, sidelines and embroidery. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy or wear those, but that they may look dated sooner. I do expect the raw hems to remain in style indefinitely. And we’ll continue to see at least some degree of distressing in jeans for the long term, too.
What About Denim Brands?
Because denim is one of those things that we seem to do well right here in the United States, I really like to support American made jean brands when possible. Most of them – maybe all of them that I know about – practice low water usage practices and source locally, too. They pay fair wages and have safe work environments. I like that.
I do find that you absolutely – within reason – get what you pay for when it comes to denim. I won’t be paying a thousand dollars for a pair of jeans, but I do find that premium denim really does fit, flatter and wear better than lesser quality denim. That said, I don’t have a problem paying a lower price and getting less quality either, especially when I’m buying what may be a trend that goes out of style soon or that I simply lose interest in.
So I’ll wrap up by linking you to some of my favorite denim sources. Jeans inventory changes so rapidly, it will hardly do me any good to link you to particular jeans (other than those I’ve already linked above). So I’ll simply share links to the places where I start when shopping for jeans:
- Fidelity Denim $$$
- Madewell $$
- J.Crew $$
- Mother $$$
- Frame $$$
- Talbots $$
- Ann Taylor $$
- Loft $
- Wit & Wisdom $
- Kut from the Kloth $$
- Chico’s $
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Blessed for My Day
I don’t just want to make good decisions; I want to make wise choices. That means I acknowledge that I won’t always find the answers by doing a positives and negatives comparison chart, asking around or searching self-help books. And I won’t find the path I need to take by following my heart either. In fact, the Bible says our hearts can be quite deceptive and lead us astray.
Instead, if I want to do the wise thing I must always seek the Lord. He gives wisdom generously. But that doesn’t mean He just pours it out freely either. I’ve heard it said that God holds wisdom in a closed hand. I think that analogy makes sense. He opens that hand and shares His wisdom only when we seek Him and acknowledge that on our own we are desperately lacking. Then God graciously gives wisdom to the woman who humbly comes before the Lord asking for His divine and trustworthy guidance.
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. ~ James 1:5